Barcelona test Liverpool’s resolve with Joel Matip despite injury crisis

Barcelona are eyeing up a January move for Liverpool defender Joel Matip, according to reports in Spain.

The Spanish giants are keen to add another centre-back to their ranks at the turn of the year, with only Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet and Ronald Araujo at Ronald Koeman’s disposal.

While minutes are being divided between the trio, Koeman wants to sign a fourth central defender to provide extra cover and allow him to rotate more freely at the back.

According to Spanish outlet Sport, Manchester City star Eric Garcia remains Barca’s first choice heading into the January market.

However, Koeman has drawn up a list of alternative targets should Garcia be unavailable in the winter window – and Matip is believed to be one of them.

It is believed Barca have already sounded Liverpool out over a potential deal for the 29-year-old, who arrived at Anfield from Schalke in 2016.

Yet amid their current defensive crisis, the Premier League champions reportedly have no intention of allowing him to leave in January.

Jurgen Klopp may have lost his first-choice centre-back pairing for the rest of the season, with Virgil van Dijk unlikely to play again in 2020/21 after damaging his ACL away at Everton last month.

And to add to the Reds’ woes, Joe Gomez is also expected to miss a “significant part” of the campaign after sustaining his own knee injury on international duty with England last week.

Right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold is also nursing a calf problem, while makeshift centre-back Fabinho is still recovering from a hamstring injury.

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Matip is not the only defender on Barca’s shortlist, nevertheless.

The Catalans are also said to be interested in signing Chelsea outcast Antonio Rudiger, who has fallen out of favour under Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge this season, while Arsenal flop Shkodran Mustafi is another target for Nou Camp officials.

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